This Lent I’d like to extend to you a friendly challenge, one I will undertake myself: if you consider yourself a Christian I’d like you to suspend any and all confidence you have in your “Christian” identity and join me in this Lenten experiment…
I’ve decided to forgo giving up sweets, coffee, or certain foods. Instead, I’m going to give up my confidence, I’m going to question my certainty, in the hope that I’ll recognize what I’ve been blind to: for starts, the pain and suffering I’ve denied in myself and in others.
I’m convinced that CERTAINTY is all too often grounded in DENIAL, which leads me to exclude others, to ignore the palpable reality of their existence. For instance, if we want to prevent another tragedy in Haiti, maybe we need to question why and how we so effectively ignored them until now. Haiti, for instance, is the largest diocese of the Episcopal Church in the Western Hemisphere, with 83,698 members in 2008. But for many Christians in this country, they might as well be “devil worshipers,” as Pat Robertson recently labeled them. Our certainty in our Christian identity and our relationship with God, leaves little space for us to recognize or consider the Haitian reality, much less respond to the actual pain of their suffering. Maybe “CERTAINTY” needs to be defined as a sin, one from which “Christians” in particular need to repent.
In fact, when it comes to my personal life, giving up certainty for Lent becomes even more challenging. Years of placing all my faith in God’s purposes for creation, unconsciously allowed me to ignore the consequences of my own actions and their impact on others. Having written and given numerous bible studies stressing Jesus’ concern for the poor and the marginalized, it never really hit home until I realized that all this activity prevented me from taking a closer look at myself: to what extent do I really welcome the stranger, the other into my life? Not too mention, the realization that the most threatening strangers are not necessarily those who live in other countries or cultures, but those who are closest to me, whose reality I’d prefer not to recognize, beginning first and foremost with the parts of myself that have never been “Christianized.”
With that said, I’d like to begin with the first of a series of weekly exercises that I will engage in through Lent. After the exercise I will share my reflections (a day or two later) in the comment section, and invite you to do the same.
LENTEN EXERCISE week one:
I’ve chosen to begin my “Lenten Exercise” by reflecting on Peter Rollins’ parable, “The Orthodox Heretic,” which he first published in his book The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief [link], and has recently included in a collection of his parables, also entitled, The Orthodox Heretic [link].
To watch Peter Rollins read his parable on YouTube [link here].
To read “The Orthodox Heretic” [link here].
Join us February 21st for an ongoing discussion of Peter Rollins’ parables at Empire Brewing Company [link].